By Raj Manimaran
A picture speaks a thousand words for many, but for the clients at ArtSpace, it can speak their entire lives.
“ArtSpace is not only a place to tap into one’s inner creativity,” Director Ruthann Traylor explained. “It is also a place that nurtures a safe and nonjudgmental atmosphere for those members of society who have been forgotten, pushed aside.”
ArtSpace operates as a therapeutic art program for the clients of the HomeFront organization.
While the mission of HomeFront has been to provide families, who have lost everything, a place to call home and the chance at a new life, ArtSpace strives to be a means of healing through the transition between homelessness and that fresh start.
By expressing the pains of the past in their paintings and drawings, the clients of the center find their self-confidence and self-esteem, not only revived, but gradually replenished.
“We hope that we can help our friends not only find a way to release their sorrows, but to realize that it doesn’t have to stay within and torment them from the inside,” Traylor said. “Through art, stories can be written and scars can be soothed.”
But ArtSpace does not only try to assist its clients for a better future, it attempts to advocate for the population through the pieces that they have poured their stories into.
The painting below expresses the story of a person who had experienced the very worst of homelessness, but the storyteller has since worked hard to “climb out of the hole” and come out on top. (The artist wrote an explanation to the piece, see the caption below the picture.)
The author of the piece will remain anonymous, but his/her story will not go hidden or unknown.
Thanks to the staff and volunteers at ArtSpace, these stories of missteps, yet unyielding resilience and perseverance have been and will continue to be displayed to the world.
ArtSpace will not only spread awareness throughout the community, but also to voice the stories of these men, women, and children who may have otherwise been silenced.
In October, the program held its premier exhibit, ArtJam, in Princeton, to sell artwork of its clients and other local artists with the profits going back to benefit ArtSpace. The event raised over $17,000, with an overwhelming majority going to benefit ArtSpace’s programs and clients in the future.
Traylor concluded, “Art is much more than paint streaked across a canvas, it can be a gateway into the lives of many and a brighter tomorrow for everyone.”
“One day I was wandering [and] exploring, like all young people do. I wasn’t watching where I was going [and] I fell. I fell into a hole, the hole was so deep that it felt like it took me forever to hit the bottom [and] when I did, I hit it hard. I started trying to climb the walls, but every time I grabbed onto something it came loose [and] I fell. I spent years in this hole trying to climb out; so many times I wanted to give up. I wondered why I even bothered to keep trying, I kept falling. But I never gave up [and] one day when I started climbing I didn’t fall [and] I made it to the top. It took a long time, but now I am free and not only am I out of the hole, but I am climbing mountains, staying high above ground!”